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Landslide and Natural Risks Monitoring through Earth Observation data

Every year slope failures cause deaths and substantial economic damage in Italy and in the European country most exposed to landslide hazard and risk.

In July 2003, the Italian Space Agency asked the Italian science and engineering communities to design a prototype system to exploit Earth Observation (EO) data and technology to help civil defence authorities to manage landslide problem.

To meet this challenge, a multidisciplinary team with experience in landslide monitoring and mapping and in the exploitation of EO technologies has been formed. MORFEO (Landslide Monitoring and Risk with Earth Observation data) is a project funded by Italian Space Agency (ASI) whose objective is to study an information service based on Earth Observation data and Permanent Scatterers (PS) technique, to prevent and manage landslides risks .

MORFEO realizes and demonstrates a prototype decision support system that assists the Civil Protection Department both to take decision about landslide hazard and prevision and to reduce hydro geological hazards. The system is based on EO technology (mainly ERS, Envisat and COSMO SkyMED data) combined with existing thematic, surface and subsurface data and information obtained from ground-based monitoring networks.

The system has been developed with a flexible, distributed architecture based on a central unit (the MORFEO CENTRAL SYSTEM), and peripherical units (the MORFEO LOCAL SYSTEMS). The MORFEO CENTRAL SYSTEM(MCS) manage the EO data, generate intermediate and final products at the national scale, and respond to specific request of the local systems. The MORFEO LOCAL SYSTEMS (MLS) integrate products obtained from the MCS with local thematic information.

Planetek Italia has the responsibility of the SAR SubSystem (S/S) activities, that are the design and the realisation of the S/S Architecture for the EO SAR (C and X Bands) products processing, the planning and the implementation of statistic analysis tool and of landslides previsional models.

This SubSystem, by including the Projection module (EO SAR) for the displacement projection and for the slow movement evolution, provides a further added value on the Permanent Scatterers maps.

The goal of the EO SAR data processing sub-system is the generation of landslides high level products retrieved from radar data, GPS systems and in situ data.

Moreover Planetek Italia is involved into the architecture and interface of the Platform for SAR processors (at first for C and L Bands radar data, then for C and X Bands radar data through research activities). The Platform allow to update the different data processing algorithms according to the new missions or the new data. The Platform include the Processing Environment component that provide the management and the check services of the products processors.